I recently wrote that 3D printed houses should start to become relatively accessible around 2020. This article discusses a few techniques other than 3D printing which can drive down house costs. I look at the home price problem as a home owner and also as a real estate investor, where the latter cares about unit price and the former cares more about absolute price.
24hplans.com says the average US home cost for 2017 – 2018 is about $257k. Homeadvisor has it at $289k for 2018. Average home size is about 2500 square feet. Average apartment cost, however, is about 75k according to fixr.com. The average apartment is about 860 square feet.
Here are 5 strategies to reduce housing cost:
1 – Look in more locations, buy used instead of new, and look at a smaller space.
These are the obvious ideas. First, housing prices vary significantly by country, state, city, and even neighborhood. Usually, a used house costs less than a similarly-sized new house. I say usually because so far this year there isn’t much difference on average between new and used, but expanding the number of options in your area will generally allow you to find something cheaper even if the averages are similar, just due to market size effects. Finally, smaller homes cost less.
2 – Add on instead of moving
Selling a house and buying a new house can easily net $10-20k+ in costs, plus moving expenses, plus the hassle of it all. If you are moving just to get an extra room, consider hiring a contractor to build an addition instead. You could build an addition starting around $20k and your home value will increase as a result, reducing the effective cost.
3 – Tiny Homes and modular homes
Tiny homes take the idea of a smaller home to the extreme. This usually refers to homes under 1000 square feet. You can even buy an entire premade tiny home on ebay or Amazon:
- MODS 40 Foot Tiny Home
- Low rating, but it’s cheap, stackable 3 tall, and compliant with building codes in most states. See image below. Other builds on their website.
- Being stackable lowers the effective unit cost because you don’t have to pay for additional ground work including excavation and so on.
- TINY HOUSE 410 SQ FT
- TINY HOME 12’x45′ 540SF +100SF LOFT 1BR 1BA
Before purchasing, make sure the unit you are purchasing is building code compliant. This site has some useful links on US building code regulation.
4 – Live in an RV
It’s like a tiny house with wheels! RVs put the tiny in tiny house, usually coming in with under 500 square feet of livable space, but they also have unique benefits like you can take them on vacation and they often include basic appliances or even furniture. Take a look at these two options for example:
- Tiny Home – Park Model RV: Ultimate Vacation Home or Weekend Getaway, 12 x 36
- Tiny Home – Park Model RV: Ultimate Vacation Home or Weekend Getaway, 15 x 26
5 – Buy a fucking barn type thing
Instead of buying a tiny home, consider buying an almost-home and working with a contractor to turn it into a livable space by adding better insulation, central heating, and additional interior walls. Done right, some of these conversions could result in a larger living space for a lower price. It turns out barn conversion is kind of a trend in architecture these days anyway, although not all of these buildings are barns.
Here are some metal buildings which could be converted into a livable space:
- DuroSPAN Steel 30x34x14 Metal Building Custom Roof Kit Open Ends Factory DiRECT
- Metal Barn 44×31 A-Frame Steel Building 4 Car Garage Agricultural FREE INSTALL
- DuroSPAN Steel 30x50x14 Metal DIY Garage Building “As Seen on TV” Factory DiRECT
- Steel Building 24×24 SIMPSON Metal Building Kit Garage Workshop Structure Prefab
6 – 3D Printing, again
I already mentioned the 5 options to reduce home prices other than 3D printing, but I wanted to revisit 3D printing itself. How much would it cost to 3D print a home? ICON and Apis Cor indicate costs of around $10k, but I haven’t been able to get responses to actual purchase inquiries, and sales price is expected to be higher than cost.
Instead of contacting someone else to do the work, it’s possible to purchase a printer and do the work ourselves. This list of 16 house construction 3D printers includes 3 non-service, non-prototype 3D printers for sale today. The Machines-3D 3D Constructor can only reach 1.8m, though, so let’s count it out. That leaves us with 2 options:
- BetAbram P1. Made in Slovenia, costing about $40k.
- Cazza X1. Made in the US, costing about $500k.
Cazza is apparently being used to build a skyscraper, so it seems to be the better option for scale and vertical construction. Building vertically has the general advantage of economizing on groundwork. If we are fine with single-story builds, however, BetAbram appears to be able to get the job done. I would personally start with the BetAbram to minimize upfront cost, but if I had deeper pockets I would go for the Cazza.